Fall 2015 Events

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Danny Yagan

Long-Term Impacts of the Great Recession across Space: Worker-Level Evidence of Hysteresis

Danny Yagan, Economics, UC Berkeley


August 27-29, 2015

Applications of Machine Learning to Economics and the Social Sciences Workshop

Applications of Machine Learning to Economics and the Social Sciences

Sendhil Mullainathany, Professor of Economics at Harvard University

Location: Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way

This workshop is being co-hosted by the Center for Labor Economics, D-Lab, and the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

This mini-course introduces machine learning tools to empirically knowledgeable economists and other social scientists. It aims to answer frequent questions we have about this material, such as: 1) What value do these tools have without causal inference? 2) How are they different from non-parametric methods? and 3) Are they useful in social science applications?
We will cover both the conceptual underpinnings of machine learning and the mechanics of applying it. A key goal is to lay out a framework that integrates these new tools into existing econometric knowledge.
Put simply, this is my attempt to build the class I wish I had when I was first learning machine learning.

Note: Space at this event is extremely limited and available only to registered participants

Further information on the workshop »

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Heather Boushey

Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict

Heather Boushey, Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Employers today are demanding more and more of employees' time. And from campaign barbecues to the blogosphere, workers across the United States are raising the same worried question: How can I get ahead at my job while making sure my family doesn't fall behind?

Heather Boushey argues that resolving work-life conflicts is as vital for individuals and families as it is essential for realizing the country's productive potential. The federal government, however, largely ignores the connection between individual work-life conflicts and more sustainable economic growth. The consequence: business and government treat the most important things in life—health, children, elders—as matters for workers to care about entirely on their own time and dime. That might have worked in the past, but only thanks to a hidden subsidy: the American Wife, a behind-the-scenes, stay-at-home fixer of what economists call market failures. When women left the home—out of desire and necessity—the old system fell apart. Families and the larger economy have yet to recover.

But change is possible. Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict (forthcoming spring 2016, Harvard University Press) presents detailed innovations to help Americans find the time they need and businesses attract more productive workers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 | 7:00pm

Sarah Anzia

People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky

Mike Miller

People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky weaves classic texts, interviews and context-setting essays by the editors into a comprehensive history and analytic commentary on Saul Alinsky and the group of organizers around him from 1955 to 1980.

In 1970, Time Magazine called Alinsky a “prophet of power to the people,” someone who “has possibly antagonized more people…than any other living American.”

Bob Moses, Mississippi field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, calls the book “indispensible…” and “an important part of the discussion we must have in this country if we are to have any real democracy.”

Sanford Horwitt, Alinsky biographer, tells us “the editors reveal why the Alinsky organizing tradition remains relevant in our contemporary world.”

About the speaker:
Mike Miller was a leader in the pre-1960s student movement at UC Berkeley, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary, and director of an Alinsky community organizing project in Kansas City, MO. He has taught at UC Berkeley, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, San Francisco State, Hayward State and Lone Mountain College. He writes widely about labor and community organizing. He now directs the ORGANIZE Training Center.

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Sandy Olgeirson at sandyo@berkeley.edu or 510-642-4072.

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE), the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project, and the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Funding for this event was provided by Kaiser Permanente.

Thursday, September 10, 2015 | 4:00pm

IRLE Fall Reception

(This event is by invitation only.)


Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Sarah Anzia

Interest Groups in City Politics

Sarah Anzia, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley

The modern American politics literature on representation tends to focus on the relationship between voters and elected officials, largely neglecting the potential role of interest groups in shaping public policy. This is especially true of the small literature on representation in local politics: interest groups play a minor role in its dominant theories and empirical analyses. If interest groups are relatively rare in municipal governments—as political scientists have argued—then perhaps the lack of scholarly attention to them is well warranted. However, the theories that lead to that expectation remain underdeveloped, and empirical evidence on city interest group activity is almost nonexistent. In this paper, I argue that to understand whether interest groups are active in politics—or which groups are active, under what conditions—we should start by focusing on the policies governments actually make. I use such an approach, which Hacker and Pierson (2014) call a “policy-focused approach,” to develop hypotheses about how the amount of interest group involvement in city politics varies with city characteristics, as well as hypotheses about how the kinds of interest groups that are active depends on group- and city-level factors. I test these hypotheses using data from a survey of elected officials in over 500 U.S. municipal governments. The data offer the first-ever bird's-eye view of interest group activity in a large, diverse set of American municipal governments, and the findings reveal that interest groups are not at all rare. They also show that the size and composition of city interest group systems vary predictably in ways consistent with my hypotheses, demonstrating the usefulness of a policy-focused approach to understanding interest groups.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Alexander Gelber

The Impact of Disability Insurance on Beneficiaries' Earnings: Is the Income Effect Large?

Alexander Gelber, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley

We study how U.S. Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) payments affect beneficiaries' earnings. The formula linking DI payments to past earnings has "bend points," or discontinuous changes in the marginal replacement rate, that allow us to use a regression kink design. Using Social Security Administration microdata on all new DI beneficiaries from 2001 to 2007, we document a robust income effect of DI payment amounts on earnings around a bend point. Our preferred estimates suggest that an increase in DI payments of one dollar causes an average decrease in beneficiaries' earnings of twenty cents. In several contexts we find no evidence that the substitution effect of DI is large. This combination of findings suggests that the income effect is crucial in driving DI-induced reductions in earnings.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Michael Reich Sylvia Allegretto

The Effects of Minimum Wages on Prices in San Jose

Michael Reich, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley
Sylvia Allegretto, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, IRLE, UC Berkeley

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Nari Rhee

“Secure Choice” State Retirement Savings Initiatives: Adventures in Behavioral Finance and Regulatory Politics

Nari Rhee, Center for Labor Research and Education, UC Berkeley

Most US households have a fraction of the savings needed for a secure retirement, and nearly half of private sector workers do not have access to a pension or 401(k) through their employer. In the absence of federal action to close this gap, half the states are considering policies to expand job-based retirement savings. A leading model is "Secure Choice," in which employers who do not offer a pension or 401(k) are required to auto-enroll their employees into a state-sponsored IRA program. This approach is based on behavioral finance research highlighting the pitfalls of individual saving and investing behavior, and the effectiveness of automatic enrollment and passive choice as a means to improve retirement savings outcomes. Policy researchers anticipate that combining automatic features with an employer mandate is the only way, short of mandatory savings, to generate large-scale increases in the private saving for retirement, and ultimately reduce future elder poverty and resulting strain on state funded services.

California, Illinois, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon, and several other states are currently pursuing the Secure Choice model. However, key features of the Secure Choice model—including the employer mandate and auto-enrollment-- have triggered a series of potential regulatory obstacles at the federal level. Some other possible plan features that are potentially beneficial to participants may be precluded entirely. Based on the California experience, I explore how Secure Choice plan design--borne out of the retirement crisis and shaped by behavioral finance research--has been shaped by federal regulatory constraints, and highlight the interplay between the federal government and state policy initiative in redefining these constraints.

Monday, October 19, 2015 | 4:00pm - 5:30pm | Sutardja Dai Hall

George Miller

Is the American Dream Still Alive? Congress, Labor and Income Inequality

Former Congressman George Miller

» Register

This event is co-sponosred by the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, UC Berkeley Labor Center and the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

Former Congressman George Miller is widely recognized as a national leader on labor issues. Miller was Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor and a member of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions. Miller is responsible for reinstating the Davis-Bacon Act wage protections for Gulf Coast workers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, in addition to sponsoring the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 and authoring the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight against pay discrimination.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Betony Jones Carol Zabin

Labor Issues In California and National Climate Policy

Betony Jones and Carol Zabin, Donald Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy and Center for Labor Research and Education, UC Berkeley

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Carl Nadler

Inequality in Networked Labor Markets

Carl Nadler, Economics, UC Berkeley


Wednesday, November 18, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

David Silver

Haste or Waste: Within-Physician Marginal Returns to Health Care

David Silver, Economics, UC Berkeley


Wednesday, December 2, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Annette Bernhardt Rose Batt

Domestic Outsourcing in the US: A Research Agenda to Assess Trends and Effects on Job Quality

Annette Bernhardt, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley
Rose Batt, ILR School, Cornell University